Have you noticed that the bees buzzing around are a lot angrier these days? It’s not your imagination…they’re mad. Late summer into early fall is the height of “angry bee” season. As bees and wasps near the end of their life cycle, they become increasingly aggressive. Here at AFC Urgent Care West Hartford we have seen a dramatic upswing of kids walking through our doors with painful sores and welts from stings. For those who are allergic to bees however it can be a dangerous or even life threatening situation. What is a “normal”, non allergic reaction to a bee sting? Typically it would be a raised welt, some itching or hives and soreness. Within 24-48 hours the reaction would normally dissipate, once the stinger is removed. If that is not the reaction you are seeing, you might be asking “how to know if my child is allergic to bee stings?” Here’s how to proceed:
How to know if my child is allergic to bee stings?
Allergies are often hereditary, so an allergic parent should be more cautious with her child, although children will often outgrow their allergy. If your child is stung by a bee and a severe reaction occurs, an allergist should be seen as soon as possible. Future stings could result in reactions that are up to 60 percent worse than the first allergic reaction. Also, often a child can get stung 2 or 3 times before having an allergic reaction, so it’s important to be vigilant if there is family history of bee allergies.
If you suspect your child is allergic you may want to have them tested, but not unless they have had a serious reaction because it is often a lengthy process and so few people are actually allergic. Also, with both types of allergy tests used, the results are the RAST test (a blood test) is the simplest but has about a 20 percent false-negative, false-positive result ratio.
The other, more sensitive, test is a scratch test on the skin that is performed with purified, freeze-dried venom. It can alert the patient and doctor to the severity of the allergy, while a blood test will only point to the fact that an allergy exists. Luckily, only about 20 percent of patients with positive skin test results will later experience severe allergic reactions.
- One should wait until a systemic reaction has occurred before worrying about allergies.
- The first allergic reaction is rarely that bad, but once again, see an allergist if a reaction spreads beyond the sting site.
What are typical allergic reactions to bee stings?
If your child reacts with the following symptoms they are most likely suffering an allergic reaction to bees. A severe allergic reaction can cause the following, oft called anaphylactic reactions:
- throat starts to close up
- severe hives and or itching
- high fever
- difficulty breathing
- racing heart
- face or mouth swelling
- feeling faint
My child is definitely allergic to bee stings and just got stung — what do I do?
Here’s what to do if you already know that your child will develop a severe allergic reaction when stung by a bee or wasp:
- Your child, or you, should always carry a bee sting kit that includes a bronchodilator epinephrine shot (Epipen) or inhaler, which will dilate the airways and allow your child to breathe.
- call 911 or bring them in to us as soon as possible. They will need to be treated immediately.
How to treat a non-allergic reaction when stung by a bee or wasp
For normal, non-allergic reactions, removing the stinger, applying a cold compress or ice, a dab of Neosporin to prevent possible infection and applying Calamine lotion to prevent itching, and an aspirin or acetaminophen will do the trick, and you’ll be back out enjoying the sun.
The real goal however, is not to get stung. Although not always preventable there are a few things you can do to help prevent being stung by a bee or wasp.
How to prevent being stung by a bee
- Avoid brightly colored and flower print clothing to help keep bees away.
- Avoid fragrances or cosmetics with floral scents.
- Always be careful with food and sweet drinks such as soda. Bees will often fly into the can and sting the drinker when he or she takes a sip.
- If you are going into a field where there will likely be bees, wear long pants and shoes that cover your whole foot.
- Keep garbage in sealed receptacles. When out at a public park or playground, steer clear of open or full garbage bins
- If there are bees around or on you, don’t run and don’t swat at them. Standing still will keep the bees calm and, most likely, they will fly away without causing harm.
- Call a pest professional if you notice a hive or next on your property.
Has your child been stung by a bee or wasp?
At AFC Urgent Care West Hartford you can walk right in, no appointment necessary, to our walk-in clinic located at 1030 Boulevard, West Hartford, CT 06119-1801. All our locations are open 7 days a week and ready to treat you. You can save time by checking in online and we accept most insurances.